Biodiversity in agricultural habitats has been on the decline for years. However, the reform of the CAP could play a deciding role in stopping this decrease. To do this, the EU must guide the current discussions in the right direction, i.e. toward a more sustainable agriculture in Europe. Examples of funding instruments and measures that protect species diversity in agricultural habitats can be found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. On 12 January, 2011, 80 specialists from academia, government agencies, and various associations participated in the workshop “Preservation of Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes – Experiences and Further Development”, where they discussed how the EU can learn from such country experiences. The event was organized by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with the help of Ecologic Institute.
Maintaining agricultural biodiversity can be greatly influenced and strengthened by the elaboration of the CAP. At the moment, the CAP is being radically changed, which presents a great chance to anchor environmental concerns more strongly and effectively within agriculture policy for the post-2013 period. The goal should be to orient the CAP more strongly toward EU biodiversity and environmental goals. The November 2010 Commission Communication on the CAP towards 2020, “The CAP until 2020: food, natural resources and rural areas – future challenges,” suggested a few very welcome steps toward this goal, which need only to be arranged and further developed accordingly.
Against this background, the participants discussed the options proposed and expert opinions developed by the EU Commission for widening the arsenal of agro-political instruments of European agrarian policy. At the workshop, it became clear during the working groups and panel discussion that agricultural biodiversity can only be achieved if an ecological quality basis is secured on all farmed areas. In addition, the many participants endorsed a designation of ecological “primary farmlands,” on which specific, goal-oriented measures should be implemented which serve to support certain types of traditional farming methods as well as preserve and interconnect valuable habitats.